The Conservative Party’s most recent fabrication was revealed almost as soon as it was published: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/11/keir-starmer-looks-stumped-tory-video-original-clip-very-different. (It was a doctored video to suggest that Kier Starmer was stumped by a question on Brexit, when in fact he had given a long and detailed response.) Much the same applies to Boris Johnson’s serial lying, for which he is notorious, even among his supporters. That’s why it is particularly worrying: with many voters obviously not at all put off by these underhand methods, if they help to ‘keep Corbyn out’. At least Boris is their liar.
Another bigger problem with these revelations is that the mud doesn’t stick only to the targets it’s meant for, but to all politicians. A common popular response to them is that ‘they’re all the same’, which serves to undermine politics more generally. That’s not true, I think; look at the relatively high-principled Corbyn. But it plays well to two sections of the political Right: neoliberals who don’t hold with any sort of ‘politics’ interfering with the free market; and populists who persist in portraying democracy not as expressing their will, as it is designed to do, but as empowering an ‘elite’ against that will. Hence Johnson’s current – and highly dangerous – ‘people versus Parliament’ election theme. This is what we older-fashioned liberals and socialists will be faced with on December 12.
That’s together with all those other forces arraigned against us: the press barons, Trump and the Israeli and Russian governments almost certainly; and possibly our own Secret Services as well. Knowing as I do something about the latters’ (or some of their agents’) machinations against the Wilson Governments in the 1960s and ’70s, I wonder what they are making of the possibility of an ex-Radical of the kind they used to spy on in his earlier years now entering No. 10? Theoretically, as Prime Minister he should have the power of gaining access to all their dirty little secrets from the time when he was being spied upon. Ireland? Kenya? Thatcher’s ‘Enemy Within’?
Of course they’ll keep all that from him. They’re cleverer liars than Boris, after all. And their official loyalty is to ‘the Crown’, which is supposed to trump governments and prime ministers. Still, the prospect must make them uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be surprised if another Zinoviev letter didn’t turn up before December 12.